Listed Buildings in Ipswich: No 11 Christchurch Park Ice House
Although ice houses have existed since the 17th century BC – archaeological finds suggest that they were probably invented by the Persians – it wasn’t until 1619 that the first one was constructed in this country (in Greenwich) and over a hundred years later (circa 1735) that the ice house in Christchurch Park was built.
Prior to the advent of the refrigerator the ice house was used to store ice and perishables throughout the year, and in the case of the one here in Ipswich would have been used to keep wine cooled and meat fresh whilst also helping to speed up the setting of the odd jelly/sorbet or two. During the winter ice would have been cut from the frozen ponds in the park and packed into the ice house stacked between layers of straw, snow being used as a substitute for ice in warmer winters.
While they come in a wide variety of shape and sizes – although most commonly underground – the one in Christchurch Park is a straight-sided structure, between 25 to 30 feet deep. Built from brick, with an earth mound above, it has a vaulted entrance on its north side (as pictured above) and is located around two hundred yards to the north of Christchurch Mansion, at the date of construction of the ice house the home of merchant Claude Fonnereau.